Graduate Spotlight | Zach & Edgar

Last week we spoke with Casey Reed, Debbie Bourne and David Cramb. It’s been quite a journey getting to dive deeper into the various backgrounds of our graduates. As we continue through this series, we’ve seen overwhelming passion from these fresh software developers for their new careers, for specific technologies and for the opportunities to enhance the lives of others with their new skills.

Be sure to listen to all of the graduates talk to our friend, Clark Buckner, about their journey into development and about their experience at NSS. And stay tuned for more Graduate Spotlights.

Check out all of the recent grads on the Cohort 15 class website and the Cohort E3 class website.

Zach Parris

Zach Parris came to NSS with a sense of dogged determination. As a fourth-generation jeweler, he was accustomed to being a master of the trade. But there was a certain lack of momentum in his career; Zach is an avid learner, and he was looking for a field that would challenge him on a daily basis. Once he was introduced to the industry (by a bartender, but we’ll skip past that), he knew that it had the element of velocity he needed. He also found that everything he could possibly want to dig into was right at his fingertips. A few short weeks later, he found himself interviewing for a spot at NSS.

Zach was a member of Evening Cohort 3, so in conjunction with learning the foundations of programming throughout this year, he was also working full-time as a jeweler, getting engaged (note: he gives a shoutout to his fiancé, Molly, “for being such a supportive, patient advocate for him this year”), and digging into extracurricular technologies. He found an innovative solution for learning while working during the day: listening to technical podcasts.

Trust the process and get as much out of it as possible. You took the leap already, now you just have to commit to it, and give it your all. Eat. Sleep. Code.

This last year directly influenced the 2 capstones he built in his time here. His front-end capstone, PitStop, was driven by the need to optimize the intake operations in his current job. (Apparently they are so old-school, they still use paper tickets). The app is built using Angular 1.6, utilizes a Firebase back-end and uses Material design for the UI. It is intended to be used for the salesperson to easily track their customers and all the specific jobs they’ve needed in the past; it provides a simple dashboard to manage clients and jobs so jewelry stores can become more efficient.

Zach’s back-end capstone really captured the attention of Clark Buckner during his interview on Demo Day. MyPod is a C#/.NET app that allows for users to listen to any podcasts pulled from the iTunes API, write their notes on them and then look back and track the source where they learned about a specific topic. “I created a one-stop-shop podcast player/blog app so I could keep track of all my notes and ideas and toss out all the old notebooks.” He’s got plans to continue building the app as he continues to devour podcasts on a daily basis.

What’s next for Zach? “I am currently attending the Alumni Enrichment Program to further saturate my knowledge of C#/.Net and Angular. I am also using any free time to dive deeper into data analytics using SQL queries and learn more about UI/UX so I can build intuitive, user-driven applications.”

Listen to Zach’s interview with Clark Buckner about his NSS experience and check out Zach’s profile.

Edgar Barajas

Edgar brings the business. Literally. Edgar lived his previous life in marketing, and was especially interested in the psychology behind consumer behavior. Just before enrolling at NSS, Edgar was a project manager and it was his unique relationship with the developers that lead him down the arduous path of the last 6 months:

“Seeing the satisfaction on the developers faces that I worked with in previous roles, was a big motivator for me to seek a path in development. I could tell that there was a sense of accomplishment that no one could take away from them. I almost went back to MTSU for a Master in CS, but after attending an open house from NSS I knew it was where I belonged. The sense of community and passion that the instructors brought to the table was incomparable.”

One of Edgar’s core strengths is that he is able to “zoom out” and see the problem from the user perspective. His business background gives him a unique ability to understand the root of the problem, design a solution, break the solution down into small sprints and create a clearly-defined MVP. Although, he admittedly struggled with letting go of features he wanted to implement for enhanced user experience.

Edgar’s capstones provided solutions to problems he experienced over the last year. His front-end capstone resulted from a treacherous experience with having to find a pacifier for his 18-month-old daughter on a trip to St.Louis and not being able to find a nearby location that was open to procure said-pacifier. As a man with a marketing mind, Edgar went straight to the point: this is a shared consumer experience. And he architected a solution: users can log in, enter a key word and only a list of open, nearby locations. 24/7/365 Results Never Sleep is an app built with AngularJS. It utilizes Firebase authentication to provide additional features for logged-in users.

For his server-side capstone, Edgar built an open-market, homeowner and contractor community where vendors list services visible to homeowners seeking specific jobs. The construction of the app used C# on the .NET framework to render a Razor MVC and a .NET API was created to allow for authentication and authorization of role-based views. Now that he has wrapped up MVP for both projects, he plans on implementing all those user-enhancements he had envisioned.

Advice? Never too early to start networking. Don't underestimate the importance of the ABC, Always Be Coding. This is all relatively new to most of us and as easy come... easy go.

Now that Edgar has completed his time at NSS, proven mastery of web developer foundations and has a small window of “free time,” he plans to explore new technologies and get involved in local technical meet-ups that focus on subjects beyond what he learned at NSS.

Listen to Edgar’s interview with Clark about how he pulled from past experiences to drive his new career and check out Edgars’s profile.

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